Tuesday 8 November 2011

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Mr HALL (Western Tiers - Motion) - Madam President, I move -

That the Legislative Council calls upon the Tasmanian Government to introduce a container deposit system, similar to South Australia, and as recommended by the former Joint Standing Committee on Environment, Resources and Development in its 2006 report entitled Waste Management in Tasmania.

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I do not wish to sound green, Madam President, but I support the member for Western Tiers on this one. It is a no-brainer really.

The first thing to say about this motion is that the container deposit system has worked in South Australia for many years and if it works well there, then it is going to work well here in Tasmania and around the rest of Australia. It is obvious that a container deposit system in Tasmania would be opposed by some members of the container and retailing industry but I think that you have only to walk along the verges of our highways. Members might recall some speeches that I have made about littering on the West Tamar Highway; it is interesting to see the mess of plastic and metal cans and glass bottles and even worse along our highways. Whilst the member for Western Tiers was talking I recalled many years ago going to Savage River to a Back to Savage River gathering and as I was driving into Savage River I could see all these plastic bags along the highway and then I saw a figure down over the bank.

I stopped to have a talk and he was a mining engineer, new to the location and, if you know that road that goes into Savage River, the verges grow really well with all the rainfall, nine feet of rain a year, so you cannot see down over the bank. But he, with previous experience, had taken the trouble to go down over the bank to recover this rubbish that Tasmanians throw out of their windows over the bank. Of course, it disappears. But if you are riding a bike or if you are walking along the verge you only have to look down and here we were at Savage River, fairly remote, but the rubbish that this guy was collecting off the side of the road, there would have been a big plastic bag of rubbish, I do not want to exaggerate here, probably every 50 metres.

There was a story about the chap and people possibly know the story but he spent his spare time collecting that rubbish and he was a newcomer to Tasmania and he realised the damage that it was doing to what otherwise was a beautiful place.

Mr Dean - The question to be asked here is how much of that rubbish would be diminished if we had this container deposit - probably not much at all.

Mr FINCH - The rubbish would still be high, but you are having a crack at it, aren't you? You are having a crack of getting rid of the rubbish and getting people into the mindset of recycling, as the member for Western Tiers talked about.

I have been talking to a friend recently from Western Australia and he remembers as a kid when his father was driving the kids along and they are eating and drinking things in the car and he would say, 'Throw it out the window, don't mess up the car'. The dad was quite prepared to mess up the highway but he did not want to mess up the car. That is the sort of change that we have made and we still have a way to go.

It might be as the member for Windermere said, there might still be rubbish there but certainly you will not have the plastic bottles, the tins and the glass bottles if you have a situation where it is in people's psyche and the kids' minds that they can turn that into money.

I will talk more about that in a moment. There have been various types of container deposit around Australia in the past and some will argue that in the days of returnable milk bottles and beer bottles which were made more solidly and returned to breweries for cleaning and refilling, we had less of that situation occurring.

Opponents of this sort of legislation will argue that this is the world of plastic and the deposit system will not work as well nowadays. Well, it works in South Australia. It works in South Australia and it will work here and it will work in the rest of Australia also.

Perhaps a deposit system would see Tasmanian beer bottles made more strongly for reuse rather than smashing and melting. Perhaps we would see more glass and less plastic. But whatever else, we would certainly see less trash along our roadsides, I believe, less plastic and glass going into landfill and it would probably engender a sense of value of packaging itself.

There was a time, Madam President, as the member for Western Tiers was recalling and it was sparking everybody's imagination too about the time when Tasmania's main breweries, Boags and Cascade, combined their bottle brand under what was known as the Tasma label. The necks of their reusable amber bottles had an embossed map of Tasmania with the Tasma brand printed across it. I think they were withdrawn in about the mid-1980s in favour of the more flimsy glass bottles that we use these days. You will find them still being used in many households because of the strength of the bottle, and used for brewing your own beer for those who make beer as a hobby. Also the little stubbies from South Australia, the Coopers bottles, have strong glass and they are used by many who have that hobby.

Some of those present in this House might even have been around long enough to remember the bottle-ohs who used to call house to house collecting empty beer bottles and then hand over the cash. That money would often go to the kids who kept the bottle stack in order. I remember growing up in Fern Tree and during the footy season we would earn money to go to Queenborough to watch the Seagulls play. I think that was well past the honourable member for Nelson's time. He had been a footballer and long gone by the time I as a child came along to watch the mighty Seagulls.

Mr Wilkinson - I wasn't even a twinkle in my parents' eye at that stage.

Mr FINCH - We used to sit up in the hedge. During the off-season we used the money to go to the pictures at the old His Majesty's Theatre in Liverpool Street, which was known as the 'Bug House'. I could tell you some stories about those days. Collecting beer bottles enabled us to earn the money to do those things as kids. At various times in various States there was a deposit on lemonade and soft drink bottles as well, which could be regained by taking them back to the shop.

Ms Rattray - That's the era I can remember.

Mr FINCH - That was a bonanza for kids back in those days, recycling that could occur and come to the front of people's minds if we are able to get this motion to have an impact nationally. Nostalgia aside, I think the honourable member for Western Tiers is on a winner with this motion. Clean up our roadsides, stop the waste and perhaps provide Tasmanian kids with that pocket money that they can earn for themselves. I heartily support this motion and urge the Government to act on container deposit legislation.

ong gone by the time I as a child came along to watch the mighty Seagulls.